What's the draw:
With his new venture, chef Michael Hunter (yes, of course we asked and yes, that is his real name) – who left Red's Wine Tavern along with his business partner Jody Shapiro to open Antler, a 35-cover 'kitchen bar' on Dundas Street in Little Portugal – has been allowed to express his passion for wild foods. This passion is reflected across the menu and the space, with everything down to the photos on the wall speaking of Hunter's love for, um, hunting. As you'd expect, it's a game-heavy menu, complemented by a cozy, cabin-like atmosphere, making it an ideal spot to catch a hearty meal in the winter months.
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What to drink:
The repeated theme of foraging plays out first on the cocktail menu, with innovative and fun concoctions including The Kordonis, a mix of gin, house-made beet purée and wild sumac. Bartender Steven Gambee, a friend from Hunter's days at Red's, won't let you leave without trying the Foraged Cedar Gin Sour: it's exactly as it sounds – the cedar gin creating a unique pine kick to the drink. No fancy gadgets or methods here; the ingredients are picked and infused with the spirits in old-fashioned Mason jars sitting behind the bar. Aside from the cocktails, there's a small selection of (mainly Canadian) wines by the glass and bottle, and craft beer courtesy of Alberta's Big Rock Brewery.
What to eat:
While the game on the menu has been professionally sourced due to regulatory hoop-jumping, expect nearly everything else to be foraged or sourced locally, much of it by Hunter himself (and he has the videos on his phone to prove it). Game is presented in unique and non-traditional ways, with items like wild boar gyoza and venison-filled Jamaican patties. We were pleasantly surprised to find a fair amount of meat-free options available, too, including the wild mushroom tarte, and chestnut gnocchi – fear not, though, carnivores; they pack in as much substance as the meat dishes, if not more – but if you're there for the main event, you won't be disappointed: Hunter serves up a spiced, ash-crusted rack of deer and a classic wild burger, made with a mix of wild boar, bison and deer. Game on.
Dinner and drinks for two: around $100.
1454 Dundas St West, 647-345-8300; antlerkitchenbar.com